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Issues on the Horizon at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Authors: Gabrielle Murnan, Zoe Ripecky, Jennifer Chen

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency regulating the interstate transport of energy. As innovations and changing consumer preferences reshape the energy industry, FERC must grapple with key issues. This policy brief summarizes pending issues before FERC, including grid resilience, market reforms that would affect newer technologies and non-emitting resources, and transmission and gas pipeline infrastructure build. How FERC decides on these issues would impact consumer costs, determine which resources would receive revenues from FERC-regulated markets, help shape infrastructure investments, and affect the costs of decarbonization policies.

Publications

Cross-Discipline Evidence Principles for Sustainability Policy

Authors : Edward T. Game, Heather Tallis, Lydia Olander, Steven M. Alexander, Jonah Busch, Nancy Cartwright, Elizabeth L. Kalies, Yuta J. Masuda, Anne-Christine Mupepele, Jiangxiao Qiu, Andrew Rooney, Erin Sills, and William J. Sutherland

Social and environmental systems are linked and, as this relationship becomes ever more apparent, governments, communities and organizations are increasingly faced with, and focused on, problems that are complex, wicked and transgress traditional disciplinary boundaries. This article in the journal Nature Sustainability suggests that evidence-based approaches to solve these complex multi-disciplinary challenges must draw on knowledge from the environment, development, and health domains. To address barriers to the consideration of evidence across domains, this paper develops an approach to evidence assessment that is broader and less hierarchical than the standards often applied within disciplines.

Publications

Beyond Financing: A Guide to Green Bank Design in the Southeast

Authors: Jennifer Weiss and Kate Konschnik

Green banks use funds to reduce the risk for private investment to support energy efficiency and clean energy. As local governments and corporations across the Southeast make progress on ambitious clean energy goals—including some with 100 percent renewable energy targets by as early as 2025—demand is growing for financing to make those goals attainable. This primer outlines the design elements of a green bank and explores how a green bank might leverage public funds in the Southeast to create a robust market for clean energy investment.

Publications

Addressing Declining Appropriations for Bureau of Reclamation Infrastructure: Policies Needed for Enabling Private Finance

Authors: Martin W. Doyle

Western water infrastructure was funded in the early and mid‐20th Century with federal financing through the Bureau of Reclamation. Over the last 30 years, federal financing has been less forthcoming, which has been commensurate with an increase in the need for financing rehabilitation and replacement of western irrigation infrastructure. This article in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association suggests that if the Office of Management and Budget changed its policies for private partnerships or loan guarantees, private capital could play an important role in recapitalizing aging Reclamation infrastructure.

Publications

Improving Market Design to Align with Public Policy

Author: Jennifer Chen

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates wholesale capacity markets, is looking to reconcile market design with state, and potentially federal, policy preferences. In an effort to mitigate this apparent tension in the gas- and coal-heavy Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a framework on June 29 for carving out those policy-sponsored resources from PJM's capacity market. The June order poses many questions and leaves open many details for stakeholders to resolve ahead of the close of FERC’s initial round of public comments on October 2, 2018.  This policy brief offers recommendations to improve the efficiency of the developing proposals and help those responding to the FERC order understand the implications of different design choices related to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's proposal.

Publications

Private Environmental Governance in Oil and Gas: Unlocking the Complex Universe of Leading Management Practices

Authors: Kate Konschnik

In the United States, expansion of onshore fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies has sparked calls for greater control of industry impacts. Alongside fractured regulatory efforts, a broad private governance movement has encouraged adoption of voluntary measures—often called “best management practices.” To explore the role of best management practices in unconventional oil and natural gas production, this article in the Florida State Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law focuses on surface spills of hydrocarbons, drilling wastes, fracturing fluid, and wastewater at production sites. 

Publications

Achieving the Mid-Century Strategy Goals for Deep Decarbonization in Agriculture and Forestry

Authors: Aashna Aggarwal, Danielle Arostegui, Kendall DeLyser, Bethany Hewett, Emily Johnson, and Alexander Rudee

The U.S. Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization, released in November 2016, calls for the United States to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. A significant portion of those reductions are to come from the forestry and agricultural sectors. Those reductions will be more difficult and more expensive to achieve if the current U.S. forest sink is not maintained and the greenhouse gas impacts of agriculture are not addressed. This working paper seeks to address those two tasks, first, by presenting a cost distribution of various climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices and an analysis of the geographic distribution of such activities in the United States, and second, by offering policy recommendations to achieve deep greenhouse gas reductions.

Publications

Carbon Market Cooperation in Northeast Asia: Assessing Challenges and Overcoming Barriers

Editor: Jackson Ewing

China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea are emerging as major players in the global carbon trading landscape. As Northeast Asia's biggest industrial economies, these three countries are connected through deep commercial and trade ties, and shared environmental challenges. There are thus growing calls for these markets to manage differences to build a foundation for more extensive carbon market cooperation. This Asia Society Policy Institute report draws on the expertise of a wide range of scholars and practitioners to help equip policymakers and other stakeholders with information and guidance on the potential of and pathway toward carbon market linkage in Northeast Asia. This volume includes 11 chapters that examine the challenges of and approaches to carbon market cooperation and linkage in Northeast Asia.

Publications

Effects of Technology Assumptions on US Power Sector Capacity, Generation and Emissions Projections: Results from the EMF 32 Model Intercomparison Project

Authors: J.R. Creason, J.E. Bistline, E.L.Hodson, Brian C. Murray, and C.G. Rossmann

This article is one of two syntheses in a special issue in the journal Energy Economics on the EMF 32 study, a major modeling study of the electric power sector’s emissions in various policy intervention scenarios. This article focuses on the effects of technology and market assumptions with projections out to 2050. A total of 15 models contributed projections based on a set of standardized scenarios. The scenarios include a range of assumptions about the price of natural gas, costs of end-use energy efficiency, retirements of nuclear power, the cost of renewable electricity, and overall electricity demand. The range of models and scenarios represent similarities and differences across a broad spectrum of analytical methods.

Publications

The EMF 32 Study on Technology and Climate Policy Strategies for Greenhouse Gas Reductions in the U.S. Electric Power Sector: An Overview

Authors: Brian C. Murray, John Bistline, Jared Creason, Evelyn Wright, Amit Kanudia, and Franciscode la Chesnaye

This introduction to a special issue of Energy Economics presents the key findings of Energy Modeling Forum Model Inter-comparison Project Number 32 (EMF 32) entitled “The EMF 32 Study on Technology and Climate Policy Strategies for Greenhouse Gas Reductions in the U.S. Electric Power Sector.” This study focused on the development and cross-model comparison of results from U.S. climate policy intervention scenarios focusing on policy strategies for achieving greenhouse gas emission reductions in the electric power sector and the sensitivity of emissions and economic results to changes in technology and market assumptions. This overview article describes the motivation for the EMF 32 study, identifies the models used in the study, describes the study's scope and design, and reviews insights in the special issue's articles. A related article focuses on the effects of technology and market assumptions with projections out to 2050. 

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